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SECT. III. . First, Prosperity, success
, and the increase of outward enjogments, are to grace what fire is to gold. Riches and honouis make trial what we are; and by these things maoy a false heart hath been detected, as well as the sincerity and eminency of other graces discovered. We may fancy the fire of prosperity to be rather for comfort than trial ; 'to refresh us rather than to prove us ; but you will find prosperity to be a great discovery, and that scarce any thing proves the truth and strength of meos graces and corruptions more than that doth : Rara virtus eft humilitas honorata, faith Berpard; to find humility with ho. nour, 'is to find a phoenix. Let ao obscure person be lifted up to honour, and how steady and well compofed foever he was before, it is a thousand to one but his eyes will dazzle, and his head rup rouod when he is upon the lofty pioacle of praise and honour * ; Prov. xxvii. 21. “ As the fining-pot for silver, and “ the furoace for gold, so is a man to his praise :” Put the best gold into the fining-pot of praise, and it is a great wonder if a great deal of dross do not appear, Ifa. xxxix. 2. the vaiaglory of good Hezekiah rose like a froth or scum upon the pot, when heated by prosperity. It was such a fioing-pot to Herod, as discovered him to be dross itself, Acts xii. 23. How did that poor worm swell poder that erial into the conceit of a god, and was juftly destroyed by worms, because he forgat himself to be ? We little think what a straoge alteration an exalted fate will make upon our fpirits. When the prophet would abate the vain confidence of Hazael, who would not believe that ever be should be turned into such a faváge beast as the prophes had foretold; he only tells him, “ The Lord hath shewed me, " that thou shalt be king over Syria," 2 Kings viii. 13. The meaning is, Do not be too confident Hazael, that thy temper and disposition can never alter to that degree; thou never yec fat op a throne : When men see the crown upon thy head, then they will better see the true temper of thy heart.
How humble was lfrael in the wilderness, tame and tractable io a lean pasture ; but bring them once into Canaan, and the world is strangely altered; then, “ we are lords, (fay they) we “ will come no more unto thee," "Jer. ii. 2, 7, 31. Prosperity is a crisis both to grace and corruption. Thence is that caution to lsrael, Deut. x, 11, 12.
" When thou hast eaten, and art "full, theo beware left thou forget the Lord thy God.” Then
* Magiftratus indicat virum: i... Preferment proves a man.
beware, that is the critical time ; furely, that man must be acknowledged rich, very rich in grace, whose grace foffers no diminution, or eclipfe by his riches; and that man deferves dogble bonour, whose pride the honours of this world cannot provoke and inflame.
It was a fad truth from the lips of a pious divide in Germany upon his death bed; being somewhat disconfolate, by reflecting upon the barrenness of bis life, fome frieods took thence an oc. cafion to commend him, and mind him of his painful ministry and fruitful life amoag them ; but he cried out, Auferte ignem, adhuc enim paleas habea; Withdraw the fire, for I have chaff in me; meaning, that he felt his ambition like chaff catching fire from the sparkles of their praises. Like unto which was the laying of another, He that praiseth me, wounds me.
But to descend into the particular discoveries that prosperity and honour make of the want of gracelia fome, and of the weakpels of grace in others; I will thew you what symptoms of hypocrisy appear upon some men under the trial of prosperitý, and what ligos of grace appear in others under the fame trial.
SECT. IV. prosperity discovers many fad fymptoms of a naughty heart ;
and, among others, these are ordinarily most conspicuous.
1. First, It casts the hearts of some men into a deep oblivion of God, and makes them lay aside all care of duty ; Raro fumant foclicibus, arae; the altars of rich men feldom smoke, Deut. xxxii. 13, 14, 15. Jesurun fucked honey out of the rock, eat the fat of lambs, and kidaeys of wheat : But what was the effect of this; he kicked, and forfook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his falvation. loItead of lifting up their hearts in an humble thankful acknowledgment of God's bounty, they lifted up the heel in a wanton abuse of his mercy: In the fattest earth we find the most lipperg footing.
He that is truly gracious may, in prosperity, remit fome degrees; but a caroal heart there loferh all that which'in a low
ondition he seemed to fave. Augur's deprecation, as to himfelf, no doubt, was built upon his frequeot observation how it was with others; Prov. XXX. 8, 9. • Left I be full, and deoy * God.”
It is said in Ecclef. v. 12. “That the abundance of the rich “ will not suffer him to Ncep;" aod I wilh that were the worst injury it did him; but, alas! it will not suffer him to pray, to
meditate, to allow time and thoughts about his êternal concernments ; he falls asleep in the lap of prosperity, and forgets that there is a God to be ferved, or a soul to be saved. O this is a dangerous fymptom of a very graceless heart ! 4. 2. Secondly, Prosperity meeting with a graceless heart, makes it wholly seofual, and entirely swallows up its thoughts and áf. fections : Earthly thíogs transform and mould their hearts into their own similitude and pature : The whole strength of their louls goes out to those enjoyments. So those graceless, yet prosperous persons are described, Job xxi. 11, 12, 13. “ They " take the timbrel aad harp, and rejoice at the found of the
organ: they spend their days in wealth." They take the timbrel, not the Bible. "They rejoice at the sound of the “ organ;" aot a word of their rejoicing in God.
They 46 send forth their little ones in the dance :” That is all the catechifm they are taught :-“ They spead their days in wealth ;" their whole time, that precious stock and talent, is wholly laid out upon these sensitive things : Either the pleasure of it powerfully charms them, or the cares of it wholly engross their miods, that there is no time to spare for God. They live in pleafure upon earth, as it is, Jam. v. 5. just as the fish lives in the water, its proper element: Take him off from these things, and put him upon spirirual, ferious, heavenly employments, and he is Piscis in arido ; Like a filh upon the dry land.
Now, though prosperity may too nuch infuence and enfpare. the minds of good men, and estrange them too much frumu heavenly things; yet thus to eogross their hearts, aod convert them into their own similitude and nature, so that these things Thonld be the centre of their hearts, the very proper element in which they live, is utterly impossible.
Ao bypocrite indeed may be brought to this, because, though Janus like, he have two faces, yet he really hath but one pridciple, and that is wholly carnal and earthly: So that it is eafy to make all the water to run into one channel, to gather all into one entire stream, in which his heart shall pour out all its Itrength to the creature.
But a Christian indeed hath a double principle that acts him ; though he have a law of fin that moves him one way, yet there is in him allo the law of grace, which thwarts and crosses that principle of corruption : So that as grace cangot do what it would, because of fin; so neither can fin do what it would, be cause of grace, Gal. v. 17. The heart of a Christian, in the midst of erfaaring fenfitive VOL. VII.
- cojoyments, fiads indeed a corrupt principle io it, which would inclinc bim to fall asleep upon fach a foft pillow, and forget God and duty ; but it cannot, O no! it cannot do so; there is a principle of grace within him, that never leaves jogging, difturbing, and calling upon him, till he rise and return to his God, the true rest of his soul.
3. Thirdly, A false pretender to religion, an hypocritical professor, mceting with prosperity and success, grows altogether unconcerned about the interelt of religion, and senseless of the calamities of God's people. Thus the prophet convinces the Jews of their hypocrily, Amos vi. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. " They
were at eale in Zion, and trusted in the mountain of Sama." ria:" Aod fo, having a shadow of religion, and a fuloefs of all earthly things, they fell to feasting and sporting : “ They drank “ wine io bowls, and anointed themselves with the chief oiot
medts, but were not grieved for the affliction of Jofeph.” They condoled oot, Goaltheber, over the breakings or tearing to pieces of Jofeph: If they are out of danger once, let the church Thift for itfelf, they are secure in a warm peft: Let the birds of prey catch and devour that flock with which they sometimes af. sociated, they are not touched with it. Moses could not do fo, though in the greatest fecurity and confluence of the honours and pleasures of Egypt, Acts vii. 23. Nebemiah could not do fo, though the servant and favourite of a mighty mogarch, and wapred nothing to snake him outwardly happy; yet the pleasures of a king's court could not cheer' his heart, or fcatter the clouds of sorrow from his countenance, whilft his brethren were in affliction, and the city of his God lay waste, Nehemiah ii. 1, 2, 3. Nor indeed can any gracious heart be un concerned and feaseless; for that union that all the friots have with Christ their head, and with one another, as fellow members io Chrilt, will beget fympathy amoog them in their sufferings, 1 Cor. xii. 26.
SE C T. V. BUT as the fire of prosperity discovers this and much more
dross in a graceless heart, so it discovers the fincerity and grace of God's people : I say not that it discovers nothing but grace in them : o that it did not ! alas! many of them have had a great deal of drofs and corruption discovered by it, as was noted before : But yet in this trial, the graciousness and uprightness of their hearts will appear in these, aod such like workings of it.
1. First, Under prosperity, success, and honour, the upright
heart will labour to suppress pride, and keep itself lowly and humble; and (till the more grace there is, the more humility there will be If God lift him up, he will lay himself low, and exalt his God high. So did Jacob when God had raised and enlarged him; Gen. xxxii. 10. “ I am aot worthy of the " least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast “ (newed unto thy servant, for with my staff I passed over this “ Jordan, and now I am become two bands."
Great was the difference in Jacob's outward condition at his return, from what it was at his first passage over Jordan ; then poor, now rich; then single and comfortless, now the head of a great family: Yea, but though his outward estate was altered, the frame of his heart was not altered. Jacob, was an holy and humble man when he went out, and so he was when he returned : He saw a multitude of mercies about him, and among them all not one but was greater than himself.
I dare not say every Christian under prosperity cao at all. times manifest like humility; but I am sure what pride and vanity foever may rise in a gracious heart tried by prosperity, there is that within him will give check to it : He dare not suffer such proud thoughts to lodge quietly in his heart; for, alas ! he fees that in himself, and that in his God, that will abafe him : Grace will inake him look back to his original condition, and say, with David, “What am I, O Lord God ? and wbac “ is my father's house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ?” 2 Sam. vii. 18.
It will make him look in, and see the baseness of his own heart, and the corruptions that are there, and admire at the dealings of God with so vile a creature. O, thioks he, if others did but know what I know of myself, they would abhor me more than now they esteem and value me,
2. Secondly, Prosperity usually draws forth the faints love to the God of their mercies : that which hears a wicked man's lusts, warms a gracious man's heart with love and delight in God.
These were the words of that lovely long which David fang in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hands of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul; and he said, “I will " love thee, O Lord, my strength," Pfalm xviji. title and ver. 1. compared. These outward things are not the main grounds and morives of their love to God; no, no, they love bim when he takes away, as well as when he gives : but they are fanctified inAruments to ipfame their love to God: they boil up a wicked man's lusts, but they melt a gracious man's soul. O in what a